Stewart Donald: Hard work starts on Monday says ‘excited’ new Sunderland owner

Stewart Donald
Stewart Donald

Stewart Donald is ready to get cracking when his takeover of Sunderland AFC is confirmed on Monday.

Donald is fronting an international consortium which will assume ownership, taking over from Ellis Short, after successful talks with the EFL today.

And the businessman last night tweeted his delight over the successful resolution.

Donald wrote on Twitter: “Thank you for all the messages of support following today. It has been a great day 4 me with the EFL meeting.

“Plus a certain newspaper removing an incorrect sensationalistic story. The hard work begins now though!!! Cant wait for Monday - SOL bound!!!!”

A club statement read: “Following a meeting with the EFL on Friday, and the provision of further information, we can now confirm that the proposed sale of the club could be concluded as early as next week.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to the EFL for their assistance during the process, at what is a very busy time of the football calendar for them.

“We are unable to make further comment at this time.”

It is understood that the official transfer will take place on Monday.

One of the first priorities for the new regime will be to appoint a new manager, with Chris Wilder and Michael Appleton the leading candidates.

Reports suggested that Sheffield United manager Wilder could be on the brink of signing a new deal at Bramall Lane, which would likely make Appleton the frontrunner.

According to the Sheffield Star, the Blades ownership have resolved to secure Wilder’s future and will offer him a deal running to the summer of 2021.

Appleton is currently assistant to Claude Puel at Premier League club Leicester City, and knows the new regime at Sunderland well, having managed at Oxford United, where Donald (inset) had a strong interest, for three years.

He oversaw their promotion from League Two before taking them to the brink of the League One play-offs, as well as two Checkatrade Trophy finals.

Ex-Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae – formerly manager of Dundee and St Mirren – became the bookmakers’ favourite for the post yesterday, but the new regime favour a candidate with a track record of success in the EFL.

They initially had a shortlist of three candidates, two of whom were Wilder and Appleton.

The new owners are eager to make an appointment swiftly, with a significant amount of work to be done on the relegated Sunderland squad this summer.

Donald will become the majority shareholder at the club. There will be some international investment, but the former Eastleigh chief is expected to take a hands-on approach and will drive the club forward from a financial and footballing perspective.